See what antique school supplies & educational materials were like in the olden days

Vintage classroom - Really old-fashioned school supplies

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Antique school supplies from the 1870s

Andrews’ noiseless drawing slates

These slates are intended to amuse as well as instruct children, and are suitable for use in schools and families. All children love to draw, and are continually copying on their slates such simple pictures as they can find.

Andrews’ drawing slates supply them not only with the surface to draw upon, but with large numbers of simple and attractive pictures for copying. The cut represents one side of a slate and its frame, showing samples of the 150 different copies found on these slate frames.

Victorian-era school supplies from 1879 (2)

These pictures are not only pleasing in themselves, but convey much interesting and useful information in regard to forms of plants, flowers, animals, and architectural and classic figures and ornaments.

They have been accurately drawn by a well-known artist —the plants and animals from nature, and the classic and architectural forms from the best authorities—and carefully engraved in outline.

They may be relied upon as correct, and in connection with a dictionary, and parents ready to answer or help their children find answers to the thousand questions which the pictures suggest, will furnish the means for many hours of useful and delightful Holiday occupation. These Slates have a noiseless felt rim.

Victorian-era school supplies from 1879 (1)

Andrew’s noiseless drawing slates in action

Antique school supplies and educational materials

The spelling stick

The spelling stick is a simple device, and most useful for teaching spelling to primary classes. It consists of a piece of wood grooved for holding letters, and has a handle as shown in the cut.

It is accompanied by letters on cardboard, and is an efficient instrument for instruction in the arrangement of letters and their combination into words. An entire class can be taught by it as readily as a single pupil.

Victorian-era school supplies from 1879 (4)

Antique school supplies: School mottoes

These mottoes are intended to adorn the walls of the schoolroom, as well as aid in moral instruction. They are printed on heavy cardboard in brilliant and attractive colors, an assortment of which is placed in each set. The letters are large and distinct, and a neat ornamented border encloses each card.

Their cheerful appearance with the judicious and appropriate sentiments presented, cannot fail to please the eye, and be of lasting benefit to the pupil. The low price at which they are furnished allows for their being placed in every schoolroom. The set consists of the following mottoes:

  • I am Late.
  • Diligence Enriches.
  • Sloth Impoverishes.
  • Time is Money.
  • Know Thyself.
  • I shall Succeed.
  • Learn to Wait.
  • I will Try.
  • Strive to Please.
  • Strive to Win.
  • Dare to do Right.
  • Speak the Truth.
  • Hasten Slowly.
  • No Lie Thrives.
  • I am Early.
  • I’ll do it Well.
  • Forgive others sooner than yourself.
  • Where there is a will there is a way.
  • Make a good rule and keep it.
  • Well begun is half done.


Victorian-era school supplies from 1879 (5)

Webster’s Dictionaries for the classroom of the 1800s

3,000 Engravings. Biographical Dictionary. Supplement of New Words. 1840 Pages, Quarto. 10,000 Words and Meanings not in other Dictionaries. Four Pages Colored Plates. A Whole Library in Itself. Invaluable in any Family, and in any School.

Contains 3,000 illustrations, nearly three times as many as any other Dictionary. Look at the three pictures of a ship, on page 1751 — these alone illustrate the meaning of more than 100 words and terms far better than they can be defined in words. More than 30,000 copies have been placed in the public schools of the United States.

Recommended by State Superintendents of Schools in 34 different States, and more than 50 College Presidents. Embodies about 100 years of literary labor, and is several years later than any other large Dictionary. The sale of Webster’s Dictionaries is 20 times as great as the sale of any other series of Dictionaries.

Victorian-era school supplies from 1879 (6)

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Combination slate desk, monitor slate desk, and portable slate desk

Victorian-era school supplies from 1879 (3)

Antique school supplies for teachers from the 1880s

Monroe’s primary reading charts

I can run. I can hop. See me run. See me hop. It is fun, fun, fun. Hop, hop. Run, run.

Old school equipment from 1881 (1)

Victorian school merchandise catalog

Old school equipment from 1881 (2)

MORE: See inside school classrooms from more than 100 years ago

Victorian-era school supplies from the 1890s

Dove school crayons (colored chalk)

Antique school supplies from 1896 (1)

Slate pencils

Various slate pencils, including German slate pencils, New York soapstone pencils, Winter’s slate pencils, Slate pencils in boxes and in wood.

Antique school supplies from 1896 (2)

Antique school supplies: Dixon’s “high school” pencils

American Graphite Polygrade Pencils. For offices, schools, and counting-rooms. Round and hexagon shape, regular and tablet size.

Antique school supplies - pencils (2)

Antique school supplies

Featuring pen holders, (round) footballs, school bags and knapsacks in various designs for boys and girls.

Antique school supplies from 1896 (3)

School bags in different styles

Antique school supplies from 1896 (4)

Drawing books, plus old shawl and book straps

Antique school supplies from 1896 (5)

MORE: Say, Say, Oh Playmate: We traced the story of this old song and hand clapping game, and have the lyrics

Vintage paper tablets

Comes in Full weight, Flower fancies, Up to date, Solider, Nation’s emblems, Outing, Trilby, Doll Series, and Earth.

Antique school supplies from 1896 (6)

Old-fashioned composition books

Antique school supplies from 1896 (7)

Old E Faber’s fine-grade lead pencils

Featuring “Siberian,” Freehand drawing, Student’s drawing, University, Artistic drawing, Star, and School.

Antique school supplies - pencils from 1897

Vintage school supplies from the 1910s

Rub Out erasers

Antique erasers from 1912

Royal Star paper fasteners: Brass brads

Antique paper fasteners from 1912

Antique school reward certificates with quill designs

Antique school reward certificates (1)

Old school reward certificates, with drawings of children

Antique school reward certificates (2)

ALSO SEE: 47 dangerous old playgrounds that our great-grandparents somehow survived

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Comments on this story

2 Responses

  1. I am in the process of completing a historic documentation project in Aztec Ruins National Monument. This work includes analysing inscriptions placed on beams and ceilings within intact 900 year old rooms of a prehistoric Chacoan Village. Our focus of work is between 1880 and 1915 and have need of the mediums that were available for placement at that time. I.E. Quill Pens, types of inks, pencils, coloured pencils. All colours that were available and the types of inks and pens available at that time. Could you possible scan and copy any information for me. I do not need the actual items just the descriptions

  2. My name is Will Crump. I am located in Bolivar, Tennessee. I am trying to find a New Old Stock loose-leaf Steck-Vaughn Class Record Book (both unused/barely used) that was published throughout the late-1960s up through at least 1988 when I graduated High school. The binder was a little larger than a personal sized Bible. The binder featured a 17 or 18-ring multi-o binder and filler paper printed in vibrant green ink that was formatted for the 6-7 week grading period. The filler and binder was redesigned around 1980-1981. The binder color was changed from black to royal blue and the filler was modified from a green pattern printed on white stock to an emerald green grid with a pale emerald green tinting every other grouping of 3 rows across the page spread. The original filler prior to 1980-1981 fit an 18-ring multi-o binder. The royal blue binder featured a 17-hole multi-o binder.

    If you have one of these old Steck-Vaughn loose-leaf Class Record Books with the 6-week filler, please reach out to me.

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